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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 5, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EST

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sure, purely from art we can't call him "enslaved person jim." it sounds like an application on a form. >> it sounds bad, yes. >> msnbc contributor melissa harris-perry, thanks. republicans got their deal for the rich. mr. boehner, where are the jobs? i'm keith olbermann. good night and good luck. >> now 1994 called. it wants its lobbyist republican controlled house back. in tonight it's chris hayes. good evening. >> thank you so much. rachel is off tonight, but the next hour is stacked up with pressing questions on the eve of the 112th congress. like what gives republicans the idea that they know love and respect the constitution more than, say, the president. whom they mock for being a constitutional lawyer. why would an administration which won on health care reform and financial reform want to hire a major domo who appears to have opposed both achievements. and why are there even more birds falling out of the sky all over the bible belt.
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i'm not sure i want to know the answer to the last one, but here we go. beginning tonight with the brand-new republican congress set to be sworn around high noon tomorrow. even before day 1, even before it's officially sworn in, even before it presides over the house for the very first time, the behavior currently on display from the gop's new class could provide a very important indication of what is to come there is this often quoted, probably misquoted observation about popular causes in american culture. it goes like this. every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racquet. begins as a movement, becomes a business, ends up as a rookie racket. is it ready to take control in washington, they would be wise to print that quote out and tape to it their desk. a more accurate description could not be found for the republican takeover of
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washington. the last time the republicans surged to power in congress, riding a wave of backlash anger during a midterm election was back in 1994. it was newt gingrich's contract with america. it was high-minded ideals about cleaning up washington, draining the swamp, et cetera, et cetera. >> i will stand there as the representative of a relatively poor family, and i'll stand there as a representative of just thousands of everyday decent, hard-working patriotic americans who simply want their government to be as good as they want their children to be. >> now all that group did was by a decade later become among the most corrupt congressional classes of all time. the newt gingrich-led republican class of 1994 set a new standard in washington for ethics violations, convictions, arrests, and all around bad behavior. and gingrich himself led by example. >> mr. gingrich himself was ordered by the house to pay a $300,000 ethics penalty in an investigation over misuse of tax-exempt funds.
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he was nearly forced out as speaker. he then quit as speaker and quit congress altogether in 1998. mr. gingrich was just the tip of the class of 1994. republican ethics iceberg, though, bob ney was indicted and went to prison on federal corruption charges. class of '94s we cooley was convicted of having bribed voters. he was later indicted on unrelated money launders and tax charges. also the very famous republican mark sanford. also included john ensign, now remarkably still a senator, another republican revolution classmate was mark foley. loudly anti-gay campaigner who resigned in disgrace after his sexually aggressive text messages to underaged male congressional pages were published.
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the holier than thou family proclaiming class of '94 also included at least three more members of congress who after getting elected divorced their wives and took up instead with people who worked for them. >> the gingrich revolution in washington gave way to crime and corruption with impressively staggering speed. while that whole messy decade ultimately swept mr. gingrich from power, it left congressional republicans with a new public face. >> in the house, one controversial member is getting a promotion, texas republican tom delay from whip to majority leader now. >> republican congressman thomas dale delay, the hammer. mr. delay was in hindsight probably not the wisest choice to be the new face of the party. >> tonight indicted, tom delay facing criminal conspiracy charges. the house majority leader calls the prosecutor a partisan fanatic. >> tom delay, bob ney, mark
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foley, this in part is why democrats were able to sweep back into power in 2006. what began as a movement turned into a business which turned into a racket. we're presented as this idealogically pure virtuious insurrection corrupt really, really quickly. now 16 years later republicans appear to be dispatching with the intervening movement and business stops and going straight to racket. as republicans gear up to take control tomorrow, there will be a few familiar faces around the capitol. this week it was reported that three former tom delay staffers have now been tapped for key positions by this house republican leadership team. incoming house speaker john boehner and number 3 house republican kevin mccarthy are both loading up with tom delay's old team. none of the staffers it should be noted were ever implicated in any of mr. delay's wrongdoing, but as the washington monthly observes getting the old gang back together isn't exactly encouraging. it won't just be former tom
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delay staffers filling up the offices of the congressmen who came to town pledging to clean up the joint. >> you have chosen an energy lobbyist as your chief of staff. that the right person to drain the swamp in washington, an energy lobbyist? >> i've hired the brightest political mind, political consultant and lobbyist in utah. >> incoming republican senator-elect mike lee of utah defending his choice of a lobbyist to be his new chief of staff. it's not just mike lee. lobbyist was a very popular choice among republicans this career when it came to choosing top aides. republican senator-elect ron johnson also tapped a d.c. lobbyist. he won his election in november by attacking democrat russ feingold as being, quote, on the side of special interests, and, you guessed it, lobbyist. incoming senator rand paul of kentucky has also hired a lobbyist as a top aide as has charlie bass of new hampshire.
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robert dold of ild, steve pierce of new mexico and jeff denim of california. lobbyists all around. it's not just that the incoming congressmen are surrounding themselves with lobbyists, it's the corrupting influence they lobbied against. after republican francisco conseco beat democratic congressman sarah rodriguez as part of the republican wave on november 2nd, the tea party favorite declared it's going to be a new day in washington. two weeks later, conseco was in the heart of washington for a thousand dollars a head fundraiser at the capitol hill club. according to the post, dozens of freshmen lawmakers have held receptions at capitol hill bistros taking money from power brokers within days of their victories. they haven't even been sworn in yet. and they're already holding special interest fundraisers. none bigger than one set for tonight. on the eve of the first day of
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the new congress, tonight at the glitzy w hotel in washington, very nice, i've been there, incoming republican congressman jeff denim of california is throwing a fundraiser for his fellow republican house members. quote, lobbyists, political action committee members and others paying the $2500 ticket price will be treated to a performance by country music star leann rimes. a $50,000 package includes a block of eight tickets. what becomes as a movement, becomes a business and quickly turns into a racket. to be clear, this is not just a republican problem. congress is fundamentally broken and corrupt, and the democrats are part of that problem too. but over the past two decades, right up until today, republicans really are proving themselves to be gold medalists in the race to become a racket. joining us now is thomas frank, columnist for harper's magazine, author of the book "the wrecking crew: how conservatives rule. how are you?
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>> i'm good. >> what do you think of that thesis about the ark of the -- >> i disagree with all that. i remember exactly where i was when i was living in chicago at the time when they came in '94 and '95 and all the stuff about the idealistic freshmen that was the mime in the media. i don't know if you know about this, but they had great idealists. and it is not like it took a really long time for them to come in and sell out. they are sold out already. remember, they believe salesmanship is a virtue. these are people who think that the market is something holy, and that government is a criminal enterprise, okay. we're not just talking about -- i grew up around republicans there is a lot of good republicans in america. we're talking about true believers in a very strange pretty right-wing doctrine. >> right. >> ideologues. and the listen that i -- this is the -- i mean the wrecking crew is largely about jack abramoff's career. he was really one of this group.
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he came to washington with the idealistic freshmen in 1994 and stayed here and helped bring them down. the lesson i kept trying to hammer away at in the wrecking crew is in this conservative world, in the world of conservative d.c. you can be an idealist and a bootle er at the same time. they don't contradict each other. >> that's the first time bootleer has been set on news. >> what you're saying is the racket is the cause. the cause and the racket are one and the same. >> conservatism in this town. you go back to place like wichita or kansas city where i'm from and conservatism can be something very idealistic and very noble. here in washington, d.c. it is an industry. people don't go into it because they really believe in it. i mean that's helpful, of course. but it is a lucrative career option. and conservatives themselves say this all the time. >> so i want to can ask you this question.
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if i were a conservative watching this, and there is a guy named tim carney who i really respect. he writes about these issues a lot from the other side. eis a conservative. look, the democrats the same way. nancy pelosi, she is having fundraisers at pharma. they're there is sort of no difference between the two. i wand what you think of that. >> i think you can probably document. there is a difference. but there is also similarities. i don't like to let democrats off the hook. and you probably used to read me in "the wall street journal." maybe you did, maybe you didn't. i used to be a columnist there. i went pretty hard on old barack obama and the democrats in congress. i had a lot of fun kicking them around. it was a blast. you know, them and their lobbyist pals, they make me very angry, the democrats do. but i think there is a palpable difference. hell, i don't want to come to the democrats' rescue. but just let me point out you can probably document it in financial terms if you had to. i remember seeing a statistic, okay, in 1995 when the republicans came in congress. the price -- the ticket price to
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a fundraiser leaped overnight it was something like $250 to a thousand dollars. overnight when they took power, okay. now why is that? and i thought about that for a long time. in terms of just simple economic terms, what can explain that, okay? is it that suddenly there is a lot fewer fundraisers so the price goes? and what i finally, after thinking about this for a really long time, no, the only thing that can explain it is the quality of the goods for sale. you think about it. >> you're getting more in return. it's a better investment. >> so what should we look for as this new congress is inaugurated? what should we be looking out future as the signs of the next abramoff or the places where these -- we're going to see the next great scandals erupt? >> i think the main thing is to watch the personalities. that stuff you were showing about the various lobbyists coming. in that's a very good canary in the coal mine sort of thing. one of the things i did in the wrecking crew is go back and
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look at how the different -- the waves of conservative idealism led to k street, or led to these awful things. by the way, we shouldn't just be talking about congress. do you remember, this is getting a little far away do, you remember ollie north? very idealistic man. but this goes all the way back. this is what the reagan administration is all about, the george w. bush administration, and that sort of thing. but keep an eye on what happens with people like jack abramoff's good friend grover norquist. with these new members of congress, the idealistic freshmen be going to his meetings again? what about the other members of the abramoff gang? what about the other members of the wrecking crew? will they be back in? go down to charlie palmers and see what a price on a bottle of chateau lafitte, what happens to that. there is a way to gauge it. >> tom frank, columnist for harper's magazine and author of the wrecking crew. >> my pleasure. to replace outgoing chief of staff rahm emanuel, president obama is considering another
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chicago insider, bill daley who is the brother of outgoing chicago mayor. it has been suggested that some on the left would be unhappy with that choice. confirmation of that suggestion's accuracy, next. ♪ j-e-l-l-o ♪ j-e-l-l-o ♪ j-e-l-l-o [ child giggles ] as a part time sales associate with walmart. when william came in i knew he had everything he needed to be a leader in this company. [ william ] after a couple of months, i was promoted to department manager. like, wow, really? me? a year later, i was promoted again. walmart even gave me a grant for my education. recently, he told me he turned down a job at one of the biggest banks in the country. this is where i want to be. i fully expect william will be my boss one day. my name is william and i work at walmart. ♪
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according to published
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reports this week, white house consumer financial protection guru elizabeth warren will name holly petraeus to join the newly created consumer protection bureau. the wife of david petraeus, who has long been an advocate for military families will oversee efforts to protect military families from predatory lenders. things got so bad on that score that in 2006, the republican congress actually passed a law capping the interest rates payday lenders could charge to active duty military and their families. the announcement is a reminder of what was one of the biggest progressive victories of the obama administration, the inclusion of a real consumer finance protection bureau against the sustained and strenuous opposition of the big wall street banks. those same banks who made a lot of money ripping off consumers for years and manufacturing a credit bubble that nearly broke the world economy thought the status quo ante was just fine. in fact, according to a april 7th "wall street journal" article, when they called to ask
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for support for the consumer protection measure, he said no because, quote, his boss believed that sufficient consumer safeguards were already on the books. which bring us to another piece of news out of the white house this week. according to "the new york times," that same j.p. morgan banker who opposed is now slated to become the next white house chief of staff. the white house has interviewed bill daley to replace current interim chief of staff pete rouse. other candidates reportedly considered include rouse himself, former senate majority leader tom daschle, and apparently current agricultural secretary tom vilsack. if you have been thinking that big business and big banks don't have nearly enough control over washington, then bill daley should be your clear favorite of these candidates. in 2000 afl-cio president john sweeney declared daley's record put him squarely on the opposite side of working families.
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now daley has a long fancy pants resume in business and democratic politics. around the 1996 democratic convention in chicago, served as common secretary under bill clinton and was campaign manager of al gore's 2000 campaign. and stipulated that the skills that make future a good white house chief of staff aren't necessarily dependent on a great liberal vision for america. but the white house chief of staff is a tremendously powerful position. and before choosing him, you would think the white house would want to see if daley at least broadly shares the president's agenda. so what about the affordable care act? the signature accomplishment of president obama's first two years? here is what possible chief of staff bill daley told "the new york times" last year. quote, they miscalculated on health care. the election of '08 showed that we had moved to center left, not left. remember, this was the all-in high-stakes brutal battle the white house chose to wage its first two years in office. they undertook it in the face of
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nay sayers and doubters and delivered what something democratic presidents had pursued for more than half a century. national guaranteed health insurance for all. and bill daley thinks it was a mistake. he thinks the president's universal health insurance plan was too left, despite the fact it was based on the center right plan signed into law by massachusetts republican governor and presidential candidate mitt romney. then there is the matter of financial regulation, the other major domestic policy accomplishment of obama's first two years in office. it's not just daley opposed the consumer finance protection bureau. from 2005 to 2007, daley co-chaired a commission on the regulation of u.s. capital markets in the 21st century. you'll be shocked to hear that the commission's final report urged congress to pare back the sarbanes-oxley regulations passed in the wake of enron and urged regulators to take a lighter touch. it was issued in march 2007 just as the world economy entered the beginning of the catastrophic
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financial crisis facilitated by regulators taking an exceedingly light touch. even worse, the commission was put together by none other than the united states chamber of commerce, the same entity recently seen spending unprecedented millions to elect republicans and destroy the president's agenda. short of rush limbaugh and fox news, this white house faces no enemy more implacable than the chamber. and bill daley is their buddy. all this doesn't even touch on the slightly incestuous spectacle of the white house chief of staff leaving to run for mayor of chicago only to be replaced by the current mayor of chicago's brother. to help sort out what the hell the white house is thinking, let's turn to huffington post political reporter sam stein. sam, how you? >> good, how are you. >> what are they thinking? >> well, they're thinking just from talking to people that this is probably the best choice, not with respect to the white house itself, but with respect to the 2012 campaign. they want someone at the top running the show that
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essentially has good ties to david axelrod in chicago, which is where the campaign reelection is going to be headquartered and someone who actually know house to run a campaign. he helped with al gore's effort and joe biden's effort in 1998. they want someone who will be interchangeable in democratic politics can run that. but they're risking a lot of bad press in the process. >> it sounds like what you're saying is something distinct -- what has been reported is these business connection are a feature not a bug. you get bill daley in to smooth things over with the business. >> that's sort of a side element to it that there is the supposedly bad relations with wall street. because bill daley serves with jpmorgan he will create all the good will between the two parties. i don't think anyone expects that to happen. wall street is doing perfectly well right now. they have great profits. the fact they're bringing in bill daley doesn't change the animus they'll feel towards this white house.
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in essence, he is sort of that key person who will know all the key players in the obama orbit. you want someone while you're running for reelect who knows the chicago team. >> he is an executive jpmorgan chase. the bank received $25 billion in bailout money, of course. this is just right in the crosshairs of -- of this entire sort of i think corrupt kind of wall street washington access. >> sure. >> whether it's the tea party or left, it seems to be the kind of thing that really riles. >> this was a huge complaint going into the 2010 elections where a lot of democrats, and not just progressives, but straight forward democrats said obama is not being tough enough on the banks. that he should take something like an fdr stance where he embraces the banks as his enemy. and then someone who worked at jpmorgan, who fought regulations, who fought one of the -- not just the chief component of regulatory form, but obama's baby.
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that's problematic and sends a really bad message for the president in terms of the idea that he is too beholden to bank. >> i think it's problematic because when elizabeth warren was appointed to the position inside the white house, the white house was saying no, it will be better. they won't filibuster her. if you then bring in as her boss the person who opposed her agency, it seems to not spell, you know, it seems to spell doom. >> it seems like they're on two different pages. the only thing i have to caution in talking to people who support bill daley, and it's not just center left there are some progressives who think he would do a good job. they say obama is his own man. rahm emanuel didn't want the president to tackle health care. he did it anyway. joe biden didn't want to go into afghanistan with that number of troops. he did it anyway. maybe he we should look at obama before we judge what kind of policy characteristics the chief of staff will apply. >> good point. appreciate it. >> definitely. frightening portents of the end of days round 2 are coming soon. turn down the snark just in case.
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debunktion junction, what is my function. i take my responsibility of carrying on rachel maddow's work
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ubber seriously. my first question is one that has caused this program much confusion in the past. >> when i have reported in the last few weeks on this show on the fate of the big overhaul for food safety, that information on this show has been untrustworthy. i pronounced it dead, then it was alive, but in poor health and then life support then dead and alive. now it is completely healthy and living indefinitely. a white house official told us tonight, quote, it will be law soon. ta-da, but you didn't hear it from me. >> okay. so in light of all that, i'm kind of scared to weigh in, but here goes. the food safety bill, a source of much confusion on this very program in the past, has finally become law. is that true or false? [ bell ] that's true. on his first day back in the white house after vacation, president obama actually signed the food safety bill into law. here is a picture to prove it, straight off the white house flicker page. so this should be the last time you hear about the food safety bill on this program. [ buzzer ]
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actually, that's not necessarily true. you may hear about it again because of this guy. congressman jack kingston, republican from georgia, is about to take over a subcommittee that controls the purse strings for the food and drug administration. and he tells bloomberg news that he is inclined to use his power to, quote, trim this whole package back. that's how you gut a law without actually going through the bother of repealing it. the food safety law would have a recognizable form, but no life force. it would essentially be a zombie. so to recap, food safety bill dead, then alive, then writhing in bed, then dead, now alive, but possibly soon a zombie. neither dead nor living. undead. okay. next question. true or false, the world is not ending. [ buzzer ] false. if you're a bird. in parts of the south. from a literal bird's-eye view of arkansas and louisiana and
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kentucky. that's notwithstanding what the guy in the next clip is about to tell you. >> it does not appear that the world is ending, even if we're still not exactly sure what happened to the red wing black birds. >> we brought you this story yesterday, the town of beebe, arkansas was still collecting the carcasses of thousands of birds that fell from the sky on new year's eve. one theory held that it was the apocalypse maybe, which we rashly debunked. another theory said the birds had somehow been affected by fireworks. today the newspaper in baton rouge, louisiana reports that hundreds of dead birds also turned up on louisiana highway 1. some of them red wing black birds, some of them starlings. and a woman in gilbertsville, kentucky tells the local tv station that she found dozens of dead birds in her yard, but she assumed her pets had killed them. which does happen. now with these new cases, the timing alone would seem to rule out new year's celebrating as the cause. so that leaves either a whole lot of cats or else the apocalypse. if you're looking for why some
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people think birds falling from the sky is a sign of the world ending, well, very strictly speaking, it's biblical. for example, i will sweep away the birds in the sky. that's in zephaniah 1. we've seen at least a thousand black birds die at once like this about 60 times in the last 30 years which either makes you feel better, or it doesn't. thank you for playing. we'll be right back, unless, well, you know. [ coughs ] [ breathes deeply, wind blows ] something wrong with your squeegee, kid? uh, i'm a little sick. sick?! you gonna let a sore throat beat you? you're fearless! ahhhhhhhhh! atta boy! [ male announcer ] halls. a pep talk in every drop.
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when sarah palin was asked last year if she would run for president in 2012, here is what she said. >> it's going to entail a discussion with my family. a real -- a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common-sense conservative pro constitution passion. >> the rally in reno, nevada, she described tea party candidates thusly. >> you know that the tea party candidates are constitutionalists.
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>> the half-term government is not the only to describe tea partiers as be in favor of our country's founding document. >> the tea party today invokes our founding fathers and says if only they want to be constitutionalists. >> when former congressman tom tancredo couldn't run for governor in colorado last year as a republican because another guy had already secured the nomination, the man who once proposed bombing mecca turned to something called the american constitution party. it sounds awes steer and revere refrtial. the platform includes all kinds of not awes steer, not revere rential thing. not letting voters pick their senators, the 17th amendment be damned. and retaking the panama canal. before there were freedom fries and flag pin on every lapel in washington, d.c., there was a
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long and proud tradition of using the words "constitution" and constitutionalists" to mean my right wing beliefs. and that tradition is still alive on well. on thursday freshly elected newly empowered republicans are read the constitution aloud on the floor of the house of representatives and expose a new rule explaining how and why it is constitutional. presumptive speaker of the house at john boehner's request, the chief justice of the supreme court, john roberts swore in members of boehner's staff today. yes, you heard me right. his staff. the man who swears in the president, but not the president's staff tasked with swearing in congressional staffers. and if that's not constitutional-loving enough for you, fear not, republican. republican congresswoman and cable tv mascot michele bachmann has got you covered. >> you got a terrific idea you're going to implement with a new congress. of course on the constitution
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for incoming congressman and women. >> we're going to practice every week if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the declaration of the constitution and the bill of rights. justice scalia has graciously agreed to kick offer our class. we'll wrap our minds around this magnificent document that will set the tone for the week we're in washington. >> first republicans claim the flag for themselves. and now they're moving in on the constitution. and i say hands off my commerce klaus and substantive due process. joining us now is dahlia lithwick, senator correspondent for slate. dahlia, it's great to see you. >> it's good do see you, chris. >> am i right this is sort of a listening-running thing? there is a historical precedent for the constitution fetish on the right? >> i think so. you know, the way some people rub buddha and they think the magic will come off, i think there is a long-standing tradition in this country. all you need to do is read jeff's fantastic book about the
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fdr court packing era and you hear the same rhetoric, the rhetoric that goes, you know, conservatives are the only ones who really care about the words on the paper and the meaning and the framers and all this stuff. and, you know, whoever it is that doesn't agree with their policy program is not adhering to the constitution. so this does have a long-standing tradition. the other thing that is a little bit interesting, chris, for a secular country, we're awfully religious about the constitution. so everything you just played in that clip, you can talk about the bible in the same way. i think there is a sort solve fetishization here that is of a piece with the need for a religious document that is immutable and perfect in every way. >> that's a really good point. i guess my question here to play devil's advocate. okay, fine. they kind of fetishize the constitution, and they had to give it this sort of biblical textual status. you know, what is wrong with
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that? is this sort of harmless? or is there something insidious underneath that? >> well, i think there is nothing wrong with it. even i would go one further and i think it's a fantastic proposition that we all sit down and talk about what is in the constitution. but in doing so, let's be honest and say we don't get to say when we get to the 14th amendment. you don't get to glide over the 17th or the 16th or the bits and pieces you dent like. part of what is a little bit fraud about this conversation is the same people who are fetishizing the document as written, as framed by the framers, and bracket the idea that there wasn't one framer, and there was no one agenda embodied in this. but even if you bracket that idea, i think there is a real problem with the idea that we're trying to sort of fetishize the document at the same time that we're falling over ourselves to amend and change the parts we don't like. >> right. and i think the other thing that bothers me about it, it seems very connected to this notion
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that we've seen in judicial -- in supreme court confirmation hearing, which is that the meaning of the document is just plainly clear. that all it takes to understand what the constitution means is an umpire to use robert's metaphor, some kind of robotic meaning of the text when that's clearly not the case, right? >> well not only it is not the case, but it's an incredibly attractive sound bite when you ask justice antonin scalia what something means or how he goes about constitutional interpretation. he invariably says easy. because it's real important to suggest that it's easy. you just look at the words on the page and they leap up at you, and it's just clear. it's abundantly clear, and there is no question. when you read justice steven breyer, who just wrote another brilliant book about this, when he says no, it's really complicated. it's open-ended, it's deliberately open ended, it's flexible, it's meant to change, you fall asleep after the first sentence.
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it's so not a sound bite, yet it's so profoundly true. so i think this there is this disparity when one side says it's easy, and justice scalia is going to deep you how to do it in six minutes. and is the other side says not only it is hard, but it may be impossible. more over, it is all those things by design. that's not an attractive notion, again, for people who want a fixed immutable document that tells them what to do. >> the founders, alexander hamilton did not come down from the mountain with the tablets on either side. dahlia lithwick senior editor slate and one of the wittiest, sharpest writers on the internet. thanks for joining us. i really, really appreciate it. >> thank you, chris. coming up on the last word with lawrence o'donnell, now that president obama's numbers are up, will republicans take that as a sign to get along or obstruct congressman phil row are the guest. tomorrow is the big day, the senate's historic shot at getting rid of the filibuster and ending partisan gridlock
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save big on car rentals too. from $13.95 a day. tomorrow the senate has a rare and precious open window of opportunity to fix itself, and once again becoming functioning legislative body. just ahead, meet the people who want to slam that window on our fingers. stick around. ♪ ♪ j-e-l-l-o ♪ j-e-l-l-o ♪ j-e-l-l-o [ child giggles ]
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you hear the word martyr
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tossed around a lot, especially in reference to politics to describe politicians. rarely is the term used accurately. rarely are the politicians in question actually willing to accept death rather than renounce their beliefs. rarely have they endangered themselves in an act of true moral heroism. that is not the case of the governor of pakistan's punjab province. somebody took a stand who took it knowing it would put him in danger. today taking that stand cost him his life. police say the governor, salman tesir was gunned down at a market in islamabad by one of his own elite bodyguards. he was shot at least nine times by a man assigned to protect him. the bodyguard surrendered to police. that's him there. he told them he killed the governor because tasir opposed pakistan's harsh blasphemy law. the law was being used to prosecute or persecute a christian pakistani woman after she angered some of her fellow agricultural workers.
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her supporter says the problem started when she touched the water bowl of fellow workers and ended with charges against her for making derogatory marks against the prophet mohamud. and when she was convicted of making those alleged derogatory remarks she received the mandatory tense sentence which is death. two months ago governor tasir paid that woman a visit. he was photographed with her. he proposed changing the blasphemy law and he took his very public campaign to save her life to twitter. on new year's eve he posted, quote, i was under huge pressure to cow down before rightest pressure on blasphemy. refused. even if i'm the last manned standing. one day later he wrote unimpressed by mullah rightest madras is a demo yesterday. small numbers abusive, well-organized no general support. here is the demonstration tasir was talking about. in protests religious leaders warned the government about altering the blasphemy law, the
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one with the mandatory death sentence. most politicians tried to play indicate the religious extremists by assuring them the government did not intend to change or repeal the law. one politician did not do that. one politician said he was unimpressed and call the protesters abusive. that kind of honest and courage rare. that kind of honesty and courage is especially rare in a place that is being torn apart by religious extremism. three years after the assassination of benazir bhutto. nearly ten years into the war the u.s. is raging right next door if not increasingly in pakistan itself. friends of governor salman taseer knew he was risking his life by speaking out. warned the government against altering the blasphemy law, the one with the mandatory death it cost him his life. he suspected it is. that is worthy of chivalry. it is worthy of the title of martyr.
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did you ever google the words "maddow" broken and senate. that topic has been frequent on this show. you've been spending a lot of time leading the effort to reform the senate. people like tom udall of new mexico and last night jeff burk from oregon. tonight we introduce you to some of the people who are proud to have abused the rules, to have bargained in bad faith and to have filibustered the most recent version of the senate into one of the most maddening deliberative bodies in the history of the union. today filibuster lovers congregated at the conservative heritage foundation to preserve the status quo. it was titled the filibuster a unique tool of the senate. what resulted was a unique political gift to the advocates of senate reform. who was speaking at the event,
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as think progress reported big wikterman whose company represents c, formerly known as blackwater showed up and steven duffield when he's not at karl rove's crossroads gps is a lobbyist at a firm that hypes this -- your organization has an interest in the bill that has proven controversial and you require advocacy before those legislators. often backbench senate republicans who may exercise their prerogative to delay or obstruct. endgame strategies will do their best to -- great power to individual senators. it is like a special interest all you can eat buffet. all it takes to kill legislation is persuading one senator to do it, the entire agenda spreads out sumptuously before you. the keynote speaker lamar alexander of tennessee. he'd like you to think that
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forcing actual filibusters to actually be on the floor of the senate, final until the spirit of jimmy stewart and "mr. smith goes to washington" will cut off debate on the of the senate. here's some of what he said this afternoon. >> now, there's no doubt that the senate has been reduced to a shadow of itself as the world's greatest deliberative body. but the demise of the senate is not because republicans seek to filibuster. the real obstructionists have been the democratic majority, which for an unprecedented number of times use their majority advantage to limit debate, not to allow and to bypass normal committee consideration of legislation. >> joining us to talk about the filibuster, anti-filibuster busters is andrew klein who writes for "the washington post" and "newsweek." >> good evening, keith. chris, i'm sorry. not keith.
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>> well played, my friend. >> another k name. i apologize. >> is this the beginning of a more conservative effort to beat back the filibuster? is this the army's gathering to beat back this rules reform? >> you have to assume there will be an army, whether or not the heritage panel of it is the beginning of it is unclear. democrats countermobilized when bill frist attempted to free the filibuster in '05. republicans will countermobilize no matter how small the rules change is this year. they're right in theory what democrats would like to do is make it easier to pass -- make it a little bit easier to pass legislation through the senate. the odd thing is that the rules democrats are actually proposing or seem likely to propose a this point anyway probably wouldn't do that. likely to have a very, very large battle about a series of rules changes which would have no effect at all. >> follow up on that. what do you mean by this no effect? because i want to ask about the or the of ideological battle on thp.
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>> two problems in the filibuster, the first one all of our audience know here, 60 votes for everything the senate does which is unprecedented in the senate. the other is that breaking a filibuster even if you have tons of vote, 82 votes takes about a week, week and a half depending on how much the offending senators want to drag it out. that means on the smaller bills, harry reid has to decide do i want to spend a week and half of floor time on this problem? if he can't say he does, if he has to pass an appropriations bill or health care reform, that gets tossed off the agenda. a lot of the daily routine business in the senate never gets done. you can imagine reforms that would solve those problems. i appreciate the reforms they're pushing. it would make the filibuster more "mr. smith goes to washington"-like. that doesn't solve the problem. saying it would be easier for democrats or republicans when they're in the minority to take
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the amount of time the filibuster. it goes in the opposite direction. it doesn't change the number of votes you would need to break a filibuster. so it would would not make legislation easier to past. if you believe the problem is gridlock as opposed to instuff floor debate, these reforms wouldn't have a lot to do for you. >> if you think that there is an ideological balance to this issue in the major sti doesn't like it when they're the majority and the minority loves it and vice varies is. or is there something embedded into it that's reactionary. >> it is mostly conservative and for the status quo. sometimes that's good for republicans and sometimes good for democrats. obviously democrats liked it during social security privatization although that never got close enough to be filibustered. but the reason to oppose or support filibuster reform has to do with believing that government should be more accountable. believing that a majority party should come in and say, we'll do x, y, and z and then get judged


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